NFL+ Free 7-Day Trial! (320X50)

Patriots training camp countdown – No. 7: Who are the UDFAs most likely to make the roster? – Boston Herald

Sign up for email newsletters

Sign up for email newsletters
Welcome to 10 Patriots training camp questions!
Each day leading up to the start of camp, the Herald will explore one of the biggest questions facing the Pats this summer. Several pertain to the defense, which lost longtime starters J.C. Jackson, Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower this offseason. Other questions cover the offense and coaching staff, which underwent a major makeover after Josh McDaniels left for Las Vegas.
Once the Patriots hit the practice field, here’s what they must learn before the season kicks off at Miami Sept. 11.
The Patriots have enjoyed a long history of finding diamonds in the rough.
They’re currently riding a remarkable 18-year streak of having an undrafted free agent on the roster in Week 1.
Malcolm Butler, David Andrews, Jonathan Jones, J.C. Jackson and Jakobi Meyers are just a few of the more recent names who were not only undrafted players, but went on to become key contributors for the Patriots.
Last year, kicker Quinn Nordin extended the streak, but ultimately spent the year on the practice squad before being waived last month with a non-football injury designation.
Who might extend the streak this year, and possibly add to the legend of successful undrafted players with the team?
Interestingly, a player many thought was a shoo-in to push it to 19 straight years, University of Miami quarterback D’Eriq King, who brought the versatility to also play wide receiver and running back, was waived a week after the Patriots signed him.
With King gone, the choices aren’t quite as obvious, although there are certainly a few possibilities from the five remaining undrafted players still with the team.
One player to keep an eye on is Brenden Schooler out of Texas. He’s a freakish athlete who could potentially be a special-teamer, and given the Patriots lost three core special-teamers (Brandon King, Gunner Olszewski, Brandon Bolden) during the offseason, that might open the door for Schooler, who played safety, wide receiver and special teams during his time at both Oregon and Texas.
Schooler has blazing 4.4 speed and plays with a ton of physicality. He made seven starts last year for the Longhorns on defense and was an impact player on kick and punt coverage units. He just seems like a prototypical Patriot.
After Schooler, Houston’s Kody Russey has a decent shot to earn a spot, especially given he received the highest guaranteed salary of all the UDFAs at $180,000. Some see him as the leader in the clubhouse.
The 6-2, 302-pound center is a two-time captain who could make the roster as a backup to Andrews. He saw plenty of work during the early camps with Andrews a bit limited in the spring following offseason surgery.
First-round pick Cole Strange and sixth-round pick Chasen Hines, who was placed on the active/non-football injury list to start training camp, will provide much of the competition in terms of Russey being able to snag an interior spot at the outset. Hines’ absence will certainly help Russey’s chances.
Defensive lineman LaBryan Ray, meanwhile, hails from Nick Saban’s program at Alabama, and not only played with Christian Barmore, but was also his roommate at college. So that might heighten his chances, along with the fact the Patriots could use some help on the defensive line.
The Pats ranked 25th in the league in stopping the run last season.
Ray, however, was riddled with injuries throughout his college career. After missing most of the 2019 and 2020 seasons with the Crimson Tide, the former five-star recruit made just two starts last year, finishing with 11 tackles.
Purdue outside linebacker DaMarcus Mitchell and Eastern Michigan punter Jake Julien fill out the slate, and are the longest shots from the 2022 free agent class to make the roster.
Along with King, Tarleton State defensive back Devin Hafford, LSU offensive lineman Liam Shanahan and Colorado State long snapper Ross Reiter were initially signed as undrafted rookies, but were also waived.
Bottom line, the practice squad appears the most likely destination for many of the undrafted players, although, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the streak move on with either Schooler or Russey, or perhaps, even both.
Sign up for email newsletters
We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.
Copyright © 2022 MediaNews Group


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *